Today was my first lunch with Project Respect. I met workers from diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of the sex industry. There were some positive and negative stories shared amongst my peers, it was a timely reminder about how workers in the industry require more rights and access to supports. Thank you Project Respect. (lunch attendee)
This month the theme was Mexican. It was a complete feast! It was nice to be able to see the women after the break.
Great conversation in a nurturing women's space. It was a lovely afternoon with excellent food!
This was the last luncheon of the year. We had a good turnout, beautiful spread and everyone loved it. Very good conversations, catch up and discussion of the industry. It was a very supportive environment.
It was a cold August winters day. But that didn't stop a small group of us from missing out on delicious food and fabulous company. This months cuisine was Filipino. Hugs were exchanged and catch ups began before entree was served - home made spring rolls. I could not stop eating them. I tried to leave room for the main course, which was a decadent coconut based pumpkin curry along side some rice noodles with veggies. A few of us commented that this was one of the tastiest meals yet. We love our chef, who also joined us for lunch, and we shared stories and advice on serious topics like working “real jobs”, and how it can be hard to make new friends once you leave the industry. We also celebrated one of our attendees achievements. Congratulations on your graduation K. You rock! - Author: Lunch Attendee
This was my first lunch attended and I had been stalling for months. But when I arrived, I was welcomed by all and there was a strong sense of unity and comradery. The American cuisine was un- American due to the fact that is was tasty and healthy. There was gluten free options for me which I really appreciated. The chef provided for all. At the end of the lunch we gathered to state positive affirmations about one another and a tear or two was shed. This was a longer lunch than usual with women staying up until 4.30pm. Looking forward to the next lunch! - Author: Lunch attendee
Today there were seven of us bonding over a delicious Ukraine banquet of borsch, pierogi, homemade bread, roast vegetables and dumplings. It was lovely seeing familiar faces and getting to know each other on a much deeper level, while also welcoming a new friend into the fold. It was another very relaxed afternoon with great food and wonderful company. - Lunch Attendee
Once again the food served was delicious! This time we had fresh and fragrant Vietnamese rice paper rolls and salad, followed by a desert topped with an amazing coconut cream sauce. The mood around the table was great, with conversation flowing easily. Discussion included sharing current information from different aspects of the industry, and of most value was news shared from a few around the table about their personal breakthroughs in their pursuits to transition out of the industry. Altogether a lovely afternoon with "real" people who get it. -A.
I met some really lovely people. The lunch was great, absolutely delicious food. It's nice to meet women inside and out of the industry in a social and supportive setting. (posted by a lunch attendee)
Community Lunch - March 2018
Greetings are exchanged as the arrivals trickle in and put on their name tags. There are mostly familiar faces, with some newcomers who are welcomed warmly by all. We help ourselves to some spearmint, lemon and rose water, and sit around a large table stocked with a wide array of delectable dipping sauces, pita bread, vegetable fritters and fresh greens. The ladies dig in enthusiastically among light-hearted chit chat about how our week has gone and what's the latest film we've seen.
Soon the conversation turns to more serious matters, this is a safe space where anything can be discussed with an absolute lack of judgement. There is curiosity about the differences in each others work, these are women who have previously or currently worked in all kinds of sex work, and though outsiders may be quick to pigeonhole them all into the same box, we know how much variety there is in the different industries, and we are eager to learn more about each other and how we work. A wide range of topics are discussed, from how secure we feel in our working environment, with anecdotes of some scary situations where bouncers have needed to be involved, to how pleasant the work environment can be depending on our coworkers and management.
These are women who can often be dismissed by others as lacking in intelligence and choosing "easy options" in life, but anyone hearing them delve into the topic of equality and the future of sex work in a world where the patriarchy is being questioned more and more intensely would soon revise that opinion. They are intelligent and hard working, they are pillars of support for their children and other family and friends, and this is reflected in the views they express.
The main course is served, delicious tortilla wraps with feta cheese and crunchy vegetables loved by all. The chef, always keen for feedback and suggestions, mindfully crafts each meal, taking care to ensure that everyone's dietary needs are respected. One of us suggests we should try to meet to do some fun activity together like bush-walking. The group reacts eagerly, part of the support offered by Project Respect is quite simply the friendships that can emerge from being in such relatable situations. Everybody needs to be able to share and discuss things with others, but our situation is unique and difficult for people outside the industry to fully comprehend. The topic of relationships is a great example, we can ask each other for advice, speculating whether an issue stems from the nature of our work and how it can change our perception of what is 'normal', having a friendly sounding board for such doubts is essential to one's mental well-being.
Dessert comes in the form of natural dried apricots and juicy fresh figs. We remark once again how gorgeous the food has been and what an enjoyable experience it is to spend an afternoon with a group of such strong, positively influential women. A suggestion box appears where some note down ways in which we can further be helped, while another simply writes "I am happy to be here" summing up our collective feeling in one sentence that says it all.
By a community lunch participant
The Women's Advisory Group (WAG) is a group of peers with lived experience in the sex industry and we run Project Respects community lunch. It is a space where women from all areas of the sex industry can come together to have their voices heard, support one another and have some fun! In the past the women used to cook but now we have a wonderful chef that will cook different cuisines each month that are all vegetarian. So there are no expectations and everyone is welcome to come along, relax and enjoy the afternoon!!
A woman that attended the Community Lunch wrote:
"After a long two years Project Respect community lunches are back!! I attended the new and improved lunch that is now completely peer based including the welcoming host and exceptional chef, yes that’s right I said ‘chef’!!! The first lunch was an amazing success as many women arrived, some a little nervous, not knowing exactly what to expect but immediately the conversations started and the atmosphere filled with laughter, a sense of comradery and the smell of exquisite, fresh Mexican food. I sincerely enjoyed my day because it is a space where I can truly be myself with peers I can relate to, learn from and just share our different journeys and stories without any fear of stigma or judgement. I even enjoyed the ‘ice breaker’ game we played to get to know each other more, which is an activity I normally get quite anxious about but the support and compassion in the room allowed everyone to freely participate in their own way. So not only did we have delicious food and kick ass company but I also had the opportunity to meet old and make new friends."